Ah editing. A necessary evil for any published writer. Logically I know what my editors are trying to do. They want to help my writing reach as many eyes as possible. It’s good for them and it’s good for me… but… I write my truth. When I see my words twisted and changed, even if only a few of them, I can’t help but feel at least a twinge of irritation.
Last week one of my articles was FINALLY published on a fairly major online platform. I say “finally” because it took about two and a half months after submission and acceptance for the editing and publishing process to be completed. The email I received stating that the article was now live, viewable for the general public, was both exciting and anxiety producing. I was cooking dinner when I received it. Obviously I had to check my email as soon as that familiar ding emanated from my phone. My OCD can not handle a number showing next to the email icon. I sat eating my salad, sapaghetti, and meatballs with my laptop propped on the table in front of me. I shushed the family repeatedly as I scoured the words displayed on my monitor. I was on a hunt, in pursuit of whatever edits had mangled my words.
In all reality the vast majority of my words were not altered. Of course my original title for the article was changed, that I expected. Overall the article was about 92% my truth. I had written about my daughter the ballerina (Remember my post Grace.) and the realities of what goes into her training. How crazy her life really is. I wrote the article because not a lot of people talk about what families with kids at this level REALLY go through. Probably because it is not a large sample of the population that decides to back their seven year old’s declaration of wanting professional level training. Had it been left up to my husband we never would have gotten this deep into all of this. I’m the intense one. Articles here and there touch on the sacrifices of time, money, etc. made for your kid’s elite level training. However I have never seen an article really describing the world that is our reality. I think it is something that needs to be said, that kids and parents considering going forward with that kind of training need to know what they are getting themselves into. My editors did a good job of keeping my overall message but there was an underlying point that ended up missing from the published product.
Part of the pressures and absurd standards on these girls stem from the studio. Flat out, no candy coating, they want our money. They push the girls to do more and more by pitting them (and their parents) against each other. The director’s wife is well versed in identifying the most competitive in the group. She has created an art out of slyly suggesting that other girls are better dancers and more advanced. Then she slips into her sales pitch about extra training opportunities. It’s an easy trap to fall into. The majority of studios do this, ours has perfected the game over many years of business. After all that is just what it is, a business. When my daughter graduates in five years she will be just another girl that went through the program. A past student that pops into their minds from time to time when they see a similar dancer or play one of her videos to help the new crop of girls learn choreography. Part of the point of the article as it was originally written was that it took us a long time to realize we were falling into this trap. I wanted to give other parents a heads up to look out for similar situations that take advantage of them and their children. This behavior shows up in every sport and activity, it is not unique to dance studios. All star cheerleading was one of the worst we encountered, We’ve luckily moved on past that environment.
The editors also changed wording that made the article allude to the idea that Ballerina daughter was going to stop her high level training. Even the new title seemed to suggest her departure. This isn’t the case. She came home yesterday with knee pain likely stemming from tight hips after a two week break from training (her summer “off” season). She is now in the middle of an intensive that involves forty hours of dance for three weeks straight. I told her to ice, pop some IBuprofen, and mark jumps today if it gets too bad. As my article suggests I am now looking for ways to mediate training so she has at least some time to socialize with school peers. That doesn’t mean I’m pulling her from the program or that I do not understand that for her to reach her overall goal training is going to continue to be intense.
My relationship with the editing process is very love/hate. Like I said, it’s a necessary evil that as a writer I need to accept. One that at times will make me roll my eyes or bitch to my husband. I want eyes on my work though. I can’t achieve that goal without the editing process. Doesn’t mean I can’t set the record straight here.
P.S. Here’s the article: https://www.popsugar.com/family/How-My-Daughter-Ballet-Training-Affected-Her-Friendships-46002429